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What milk is the rarest?

What milk is the rarest?

An Indian man drinking a cup of camel milk in Kutch, Gujarat

photography by: Editor GoI Monitor

There are very few examples of staple food items that shaped human civilization throughout the history like milk, as this nutritious liquid has been vastly consumed for at least 7,000 years at different parts of Earth. Despite the fact that roughly 65 percent of the world’s population has lactose intolerance to some extent, making milk partly or fully indigestible, it still has a growing presence in practically any global market. While cow-milk based dairy products are by far the most widespread type in almost every country, sheep, goat and even buffalo milks also play a major role, reflected in the myriad of flavors and aromas this industry has to offer. It might come as a surprise, yet there are parts of the world where other sorts of milks, which some of you might regard as undrinkable, are consumed regularly, five of which are particularly intriguing and bewildering to grasp.

By: Scott Chipman

Date: 00:15 21.11.20

Last Update: 01:23 17.07.22

Horse Milk, Mongolia and Central Asia

It’s difficult to overstate the cultural importance of Horses in Mongolia and throughout all of Central Asia, as this equine beast is far more than just a low-tech method of transportation, but a major food source, herding assistant and the highlight of many large-scale events.
Perhaps the most exceptional part of this national obsession over horses is the widespread consumption of fermented mare milk, Airag or Kumis as it’s locally known in Mongolia and Central Asia respectively.
Due to the milk’s relative high content of lactose, it can be transformed into an alcoholic beverage by a fermentation process, in which yeasts make the milk alcoholic and fizzy while lactobacillus bacteria increases its level of acidity.
Whereas modern processing is rather industrial and large scale, customarily, after the mare milking is completed, the milk is filtered through a locally woven fabric, then poured into a small container hung on the entrance of a yurt or a ger, where it’s being fermented for a couple of days, occasionally shaken by people who go in or out, insuring the milk is being evenly fermented.
If you are curious about its flavor, it’s slightly sour and carbonated with a much lighter texture when compared with other dairy products, while its alcohol percentage ranges from 0.7% to 2.5%, a little less than an average beer.
This unique beverage is widely regarded as the national drink in some countries, however, not everyone will find it palatable, particularly the ones who never tried it before.

Mare milking in Mongolia

photography by: Scott Presly

Camel Milk, The Middle East and the Horn of Africa

Nicknamed as the ships of the deserts, camels served as a reliable method of desert commuting since their domestication around 5,000 years ago, thanks to their incredible ability to move in the scorching heat of the desert for days or even weeks without drinking water.
Thereby, for centuries camel milk has been used as a stable food source among pastoral and nomadic communities across the Sahara and the Middle-East, as camels can generate extremely nutritious milk even during harsh conditions.
Nowadays, camel milk products have spread far beyond their original sphere, with countries as far as Australia and the United States having numerous camel farms, also boosted by their lower ecological footprint in comparison to cow ranching, albeit interestingly, Somalia is still the world’s largest producer of camel milk with roughly one million tons annually.
Due to the milk’s low content of lactose, it is sometimes consumed as a substitute to cow milk by people who have lactose intolerance, as a matter of fact, camel milk is also rich in many nutrients, vitamins, calcium and iron. Bestowed with so many claimed health benefits, the UN consequently branded camel milk as superfood, prompting a global trend around this white gold, expanding its use for applications such as cosmetics and food supplements.
When it comes to the milk’s flavor, it varies depending on many factors such as the sort of pasture or camel’s age, tasting somewhere between sweet and creamy to smoky and nutty, whereas the most common form of camel dairy products are raw milk, ice-cream and yoghurt, though, some countries like Mauritania also produce considerable amounts of cheese and butter as well.

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A woman selling camel milk in Barawe, Somalia

photography by: AMISOM Public Information

Yak Milk, Nepal and Tibet

In the popular culture lions always crowned as the king of the animals, yet at the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas the only true and undisputed ruler is the majestic beast of burden, the yak. Featuring dark and long fur that almost reaches the ground, this behemoth was, and still is to some extent, the most prominent livelihood source for the local herder communities for the past thousands of years.
Almost every part of the animal is utilized, including its dungs as fuel, nevertheless, by far the most widespread use is of the yak milk, serving as the prime ingredient in a large array of dairy products, ranging from raw milk, ghee, yoghurt and cheeses to clarified butter, burned as a ritual light source in Buddhist temples. In recent years, with the help of Swiss manufacturers, local cattlemen managed to produce a Gruyere style cheese with delicate flavors, praised by every foreign tourist who had a bite of it.
Among the more traditional delicacies are yak milk tea, made of boiled water with tea leaves which then mixed with milk, forming a rather fragrant flavor, a Tibetan staple desert known as yak milk cake, prepared from a mixture of yak butter and brown sugar, and Chhurpi, a ricotta-style cheese made of boiled milk, drained by being left hung in a cloth.
Curiously, when the calf is born, the yak milk is usually pink tinted as it’s slightly mixed with blood, becoming whiter in color as the calves grow up. With regard to its taste, most people describe it as very rich in flavor, lightly sweet and aromatic, additionally, yak milk contains far more proteins and fats, including omega 3 acids, making it an emerging superfood in many countries around the world, particularly in China.

A young girl milking a yak in Tibet

photography by: Larry Koester

Reindeer Milk, Lapland and Norway

Believe it or not, reindeers are real animals and not just the personal rickshaw pullers of Santa Claus, in fact, for millennia they played a key role in the survival of Inuit tribes all over the Arctic Circle. Since the Stone Age, humans followed the migrating paths of these Nordic beasts, hunting them for their precious meat or using their immense perseverance to cover lengthy journeys on a sled across the snowy terrain.
Probably the least known aspect about this formidable animal is the widespread consumption of its milk among nomadic communities on the far reaches of our planet, providing a nutritious source of food in a harsh and treacherous climate.
Interestingly, the milk output of a single reindeer is relatively low, standing at roughly 100 ML a day and 50 liters a years, making it a rather uneconomic for a large scale industry, even more amplified if taking into consideration the aggressive and protective behavior of a reindeer mother whenever a milking process takes place, thereby, reindeer milk never actually spread much beyond the local use by tribal groups or boutique shops.
Due to reindeer calves limited window of opportunity to get stronger during the short summer time before the arrival of winter, the milk contains considerable amounts of fats and proteins, resulting in a much higher calorie intake than cow milk, reflected in extremely creamy texture, reminiscent of condensed milk.
Traditioanlly, the milk is consumed as butter or curds, while occasionally being frozen for a later use, nowadays however, it’s also processed as an ingredient in several cheeses, most notably Leipäjuusto, aka Finnish squeaky cheese.

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A couple milking a female reindeer in Finnmark, Norway

photography by: Silverbanks Pictures Image Archive

Pig Milk, The Netherlands

Possibly the most eccentric example on our list, pig milk was never really mass produced throughout the human history due to a couple of factors, whether it’s the milk’s unpalatable aroma or the entailed difficulty of the milking process, all made the prospects of supermarket shelves full with pig-milk mozzarella or swine yoghurt practically non-feasible.
Having said that, an out of the ordinary Dutch farmer named Erik Stegnik recently launched a project in which sow-milk was processed into a cheese, auctioned for charity at a staggering price of more than 1,500 Euros per kilo, making it by far the most expensive cheese ever sold worldwide.
Erik, who grows free-range pigs roaming freely in his farm at the small town of Bathmen, claimed that in order to make just a mere kilo of this precious cheese, it took 10 people intermittently milking sows for almost two days. This labor-intensive process is the result of the sow’s aggressive reluctance to cooperate and the limited availability of milk, as she can be milked for no more than thirty seconds for every 2 hours, compared with 10 minutes in the case of cows, moreover, a female pig has 14 teats, unsuitable for any existing farm machinery.
As for the flavor itself, pig-milk is much fattier than cow’s and gamier than goat’s, whereas Erik’s exceptional cheese was chalky and salty according to the few lucky people who had a chance to taste it.

A sow feeding her cute little piglets

photography by: woodleywonderworks

Milk And Cheese:
The Special Edition (Mail-Away)

Milk & Cheese (a.k.a. «dairy products gone bad») apparently first appeared in the last issue (#6) of Greed magazine (Bleak House Publishing, Winter 1988 issue / January 1989).

This is a special mail-away comic with story, cover & art by Evan Dorkin, produced almost a decade later.

Milk And Cheese : The Special Edition Mail-Away

In 2008, Dorkin described this edition as «Milk and Cheese: The Stupid Edition» on his live journal and went on to say:

«The Special Edition, published in 1997, and one of my dumber ideas, business-wise, if not necessarily comics-wise (there are a lot of contenders for that). Actually, the high concept wasn’t mine, a friend suggested it, but my mistake was to turn the bit into a 16-page mini-comic . My second mistake was making it an SLG exclusive available only through conventions and mail order. I don’t have the time to go into my thinking on that one.»

«I intend to include the material in the second M&C collection, which will be released sometime after 2026. If I live that long.»

What part of the brain controls slurred speech?

Note that the material was eventually collected in the 2011 release: Milk And Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad! HC (with subtitle: «Death to False Comics. «).

Milk And Cheese : The Special Edition Mail-Away Back Cover

The CGC Census has a single copy graded at 9.8 on Signature Series with the label text: «SIGNED & SKETCH BY EVAN DORKIN ON 6/21/14». The title is noted as: «Milk & Cheese: The Special Edition».

A «VF» copy sold on ebay in April 2016 for $50 but these rarely come up for sale so they can be hard to get hold of.

Milk And Cheese: The Special Edition (Mail-Away)
Right now on eBay

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[2] Most publishers don’t disclose actual print run data and they may not know the exact numbers in any case due to inaccuracies of the printing process leading to overage/underage (it has also been common practice to add 3-10% to the print run as cover against underage, spoilage and other damages). As well as distributed copies, there may be pre-press proofs (may differ from the main print run), spoilage (which can lead to some error variants or comics being pulped), file copies, complimentary copies and other stock that is not distributed at the time. Any disclosed distribution data should be treated with caution as this may not be totally accurate; note also limitations of the data: since around 2009, Diamond North America included most variants they distribute within its disclosed distribution data along with the standard copies as one figure; also the data excludes distribution of the same English language copies outside North America (so, for example, UK distribution via Diamond UK is excluded). Estimates on this site are just that and should be treated as a very rough guide only.
[3] Prices are just a guide and may be out-of-date so best to check other guides and realized sales from both auction sites and comic shops as well for a more accurate measure of current value.
[4] Information is as accurate as possible at the time of publication but there may be some mistakes; if you note any problems with the content of any pages please get in touch. Many thanks!

© Recalled Comics (RO), 2023.

Seven of the Most Extreme Milks in the Animal Kingdom


A mother’s breastmilk contains a concoction of nutrients—mainly fats, proteins and carbohydrates—essential for a baby’s development. It also contains a cocktail of protective factors that help vulnerable babies fight off harmful microbes.

Breastmilk is not a uniquely human feature. All mammals produce milk, and each mammalian species produces its own special blend best suited for its babies. Figuring out how and why milk differs across species can help scientists better understand how human breastmilk influences infant development and growth, which can be especially useful for designing supplemental formulas for babies.

Here are some examples of the most extreme milks found in nature:

Hooded seals (Cystophora cristata)

Seven of the Most Extreme Milks in the Animal Kingdom

Hooded seal mothers produce the fattiest known milk. Human breastmilk has about three to five percent fat in it. But with more than 60 percent fat, hooded seal milk would rival some of the richest Häagen-Dazs ice creams out there. Such a high-fat diet is crucial for the seal pups, because these animals are born into the freezing waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Seal mothers give birth to pups on floating ice, an environment that is both unstable and unreliable. So the mother seal feeds her pups for only four days, packing a lot of energy-dense fat into her milk.

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During this super-short nursing period, the pups can consume about 16.6 pounds of milk every day. By the time they are weaned, they are almost double in weight, researchers have found. The high-fat diet helps the pups put on a thick layer of blubber that serves to insulate their bodies against the harsh, cold environment, says Amy Skibiel, a lactation expert at the University of Florida.

Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)

Seven of the Most Extreme Milks in the Animal Kingdom

By contrast, the black rhinoceros has the skimmest milk on the fat spectrum. A rhino mom produces milk that is watery and has only about 0.2 percent fat. This dilute milk may have something to do with the animals’ slow reproductive cycle. Black rhinoceroses become capable of reproducing only once they reach four to five years old. They have long pregnancies that last for over a year, and they give birth to one calf at a time. Then they spend a considerable amount of time—almost two years—nursing their young.

In a 2013 study, Skibiel’s team found that species that lactate for longer durations tend to have lower fat and proteins in their milk. “And that makes sense, because if a female were lactating for a few years and really investing in putting a lot of nutrients into her milk, that’s not really sustainable over a long period of time,” Skibiel says. “That’s probably the reason why we see such low fat in the black rhinoceros milk.”

Tammar Wallabies (Macropus eugenii)

Seven of the Most Extreme Milks in the Animal Kingdom

Tammar wallabies, found in southern and western Australia, produce sugar-rich milk for their joeys. Their milk contains about 14 percent sugar, double the amount present in human milk and one of the highest levels among mammals. The types of sugars in their milk are different, too. The predominant sugar in human milk is lactose—a sugar that breaks down into glucose and galactose. However, milk of the tammar wallabies has very little lactose in it, and instead consists of high levels of other complex sugars called oligosaccharides. The reasons for this difference are still under investigation, but one idea is that the milk oligosaccharides may serve an anti-microbial purpose in a developing joey’s gut.

Many marsupials, or pouched mammals, like tammar wallabies also have a unique way of controlling what goes into their milk depending on the ages of their young. For example, a tammar wallaby mother could be suckling an older joey from one nipple and an infant joey still in her pouch from another nipple, and she can produce two different milks for each of them. The younger joey may enjoy milk rich in sugars, while the older one gets milk higher in proteins and fat. “It’s quite incredible that they are capable of producing two entirely different milks that are suited for the stage that that young is in,” Skibiel says.

Eastern Cottontail Rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus)

Seven of the Most Extreme Milks in the Animal Kingdom

Milk from the eastern cottontail rabbit has around 15 percent protein in it—the most protein-rich milk researchers have found so far—and is also rich in fats. According to researchers, milk with high levels of both fats and proteins is seen among species that leave their young unattended for extended periods of time, while the mothers go off to forage. Cottontail rabbit mothers, for instance, return to their ground nests to nurse their young only once or twice a day.

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“So during those times when they are nursing, the rabbit pups are probably consuming a greater amount of milk,” Skibiel says. “And that milk is going to be higher in density, or richer in nutrients, basically to compensate for the time that they are away from their mothers and are not able to suckle.” Following such a rich diet, the young rabbits mature quickly and are able to fend for themselves after only a few weeks of suckling their mother’s milk.

Pigs (Sus domesticus)

Seven of the Most Extreme Milks in the Animal Kingdom

Pig milk is slightly fattier than cow milk but has similar amounts of proteins and sugars. Why then do we drink cow’s milk but not pig’s? The answer comes down to a physical limitation: sows are very difficult to milk. The female pigs have around 14 small teats, compared with the four large nipples on a cow’s udder. Sows also eject milk to their suckling piglets in bursts that last only up to a minute, so you would have to wait for a really long time to collect even half a liter of milk. By contrast, cows store their milk in their udders and can eject milk continuously for several minutes at a time.

However, recently a farm in the Netherlands produced cheese from pig’s milk. The rare product, which reportedly tastes saltier and creamier than traditional cow’s milk cheese, sells at a whopping $1,200 per pound.

Pigeons (Columba livia)

Seven of the Most Extreme Milks in the Animal Kingdom

Mammals may have a monopoly on milk, but some birds, like pigeons, produce a milk-like substance for their babies, too. And unlike mammals, both male and female pigeons produce this milky substance to feed their young squabs. Pigeon parents produce what is known as crop milk, which is secreted into a small sac at the base of their throats that normally stores and moistens food. Once a squab is born, the pigeons regurgitate crop milk into the baby bird’s mouth.

Pigeon milk mostly has high levels of proteins and fats, as well as some minerals and other nutrients. Flamingoes and emperor penguins are also known to produce crop milk for their young.

Humans (Homo sapiens)

Seven of the Most Extreme Milks in the Animal Kingdom

In her 2013 study, Skibiel found that, in general, closely related species have similar patterns of milk composition. For instance, the low-fat, low-protein and high-sugar blend of human milk does follow the typical pattern of most other primate milk. Humans also nurse their babies for long periods of time in general—sometimes up to a few years. And like black rhinoceroses’ milk, the longer nursing period means that humans tend to invest fewer energy-rich nutrients into their milk.

We still have a long way to go before we completely demystify human milk. For example, human milk, like that of tammar wallabies, has an array of complex sugars called oligosaccharides. Researchers are only beginning to understand the role these sugars play in fortifying human infants. Still, there’s a lot more research going into human milk than into milks of other species, Skibiel says. Scientists know the milk compositions of only 5 percent of the mammals living today.

“So some of the things that we know about human milk may not necessarily be unique. We just don’t know if they exist in the milks of other species yet. And we don’t have the data to make a comparative analysis.”

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